Mobile Phones and Paper Documents: Evaluating A New Approach for Capturing Microﬁnance Data in Rural India Tapan Parikh, Paul Javid Sasikumar K. Department of CSE ekgaon technologies Univ. of Washington Madurai, India tapan,firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com Kaushik Ghosh Human Factors India Mumbai, India firstname.lastname@example.org
CAM is a user interface toolkit that allows a cameraequipped mobile phone to interact with paper documents. It is designed to automate inefﬁcient, paper-intensive information processes in the developing world. In this paper we present a usability evaluation of an application built using CAM for collecting data from microﬁnance groups in rural India. This application serves an important and immediate need in the microﬁnance industry. Our quantitative results show that the user interface is efﬁcient, accurate and can quickly be learned by rural users. The results were competitive with an equivalent PC-based UI. Qualitatively, the interface was found easy to use by almost all users. This shows that, with a properly designed user interface, mobile phones can be a preferred platform for many rural computing applications. Voice feedback and numeric data entry were particularly well-received by users. We are conducting a pilot of this application with 400 microﬁnance groups in India. Author Keywords
Mobile phones have been cited as the most likely modern digital tool to support economic development in underdeveloped regions . As shown in the example of Grameen Phone , if a phone is shared by a group of people, it can be afforded by even the poorest communities. For rural computing applications, a mobile phone has inherent advantages over a PC in terms of cost, portability and familiarity to users. Previously, we conducted a design experiment with microﬁnance groups in rural India . We observed that paper plays an important role in group record-keeping. We demonstrated that a user interface based on graphical icons, voice feedback in the local language, and numeric data entry was well-suited for rural users that were new to computing and who may be functionally illiterate. We have implemented these guidelines in CAM, a mobile phone user interface toolkit designed to automate inefﬁcient, paperintensive information processes in India and elsewhere in the rural developing world . In this paper we present an instantiation and usability evaluation of CAM for a speciﬁc application — collecting data from rural microﬁnance groups in India. Mobile user interfaces are frequently cited as less usable than PC interfaces due to their limited screen size and input capabilities . Our quantitative results show that a CAM-based user interface is efﬁcient, accurate, can quickly be learned by rural users, and is competitive with an equivalent web-based UI on a PC. Qualitatively, CAM was described as easy to use by almost all users. This justiﬁes our design and shows that, with a properly designed user interface, mobile phones can be a viable platform for many rural computing applications. Based on this successful evaluation, we are planning a pilot implementation of CAM with 400 microﬁnance groups near Madurai, Tamil Nadu, India. THE CAM INTERFACE
paper user interface, visual codes, document processing, mobile phone, microﬁnance, rural development, ICT ACM Classiﬁcation Keywords
H5.2. Information interfaces and presentation (e.g., HCI): User Interfaces. INTRODUCTION
Microﬁnance is the provision of ﬁnancial services to poor, disadvantaged and under-served communities. Including services such as loans, savings and insurance, microﬁnance is an effective tool for enabling sustainable local socioeconomic development. One of the biggest challenges facing microﬁnance service providers, particularly in rural areas of the developing world, is implementing a Management Information System (MIS) that can interface with a large number of clients across a region with unreliable physical...
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